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tv   Panel Discussion on War  CSPAN  April 27, 2014 12:00am-1:05am EDT

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>> please turn off your cell phones. we will be on c-span today so this will be recorded. i'm a staff writer for the la times and we are talking about the realities of war with three distinguished writers that have attacked the subject from very different angles. america's been at war now for 13 years and the statistics are the 22 veteran said they are killing themselves and of the 2 million u.s. veterans who've been to iraq or afghanistan some 20 to 30% are afflicted by posttraumatic stress disorder
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and half a million people entering the country psychologically wounded. a word about my background created last yeathreeof last yen veterans for the la times called invisible war and i followed the veterans and their families as they coped with a strong interest in the subject and we are eager to hear what the panel has to say today. we will ask specific questions and open it up to the audience. david finkel has been documented the effects of the war on the human psyche. the most recent book the critically acclaimed thank you for your service, calls the issues on the aftermath. it has received numerous awards to get his previous book the good soldier is a best-selling
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account of the u.s. infantry battalion during the iraq war surge won multiple awards and was named a top ten book by "the new york times." he's an editor and writer for the "washington post." he has reported from africa, asia, europe and across the united states he covered wars in kosovo and iraq and among his honors are the pulitzer prize and macarthur foundation genius grant and 2012. to his right is david morris, a former marine infantry officer in a storm on the horizon. he covered the war in iraq and afghanistan for slate salon and the first dispatch for the virginia quarterly review from iraq titled the notes from the underground was included in the best american on the required reading of 2007. his work has appeared in the new yorker foreign-policy and the journal.
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in january of 2015, houston missed when will release the boobook the evil hours a biogray of posttraumatic stress disorder. to my left is janet, the author of eight novels including the pulitzer nominated the buzzards. her textbook writing fiction is the most widely used textbook in america. her children's book the giant sandwich has been translated into 20 languages and orchestra. her poems stories and essays appeared in atlantic monthly, mademoiselle, the guardian and many other publications. her memoir. please welcome the guests. [applause]
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in your first book you follow the army battalion. thank you for your service. one of the central characters. thanks for coming today. 22 a day a quick thing about that number the la times has done some reporting on this team at the "washington post" has done some reporting on the figure. when you examine the 22 most of
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these folks have gone on from the service and have done many other things over 60 there have been life experiences along the way. it's worth pointing out it's not the assumption is this a direct line from the war experience to a suicide. while i'm not saying that it's not coming if not that it necessarily is. the other part of the 22 is the most recent. there was a spike in the number they're shaking their lives. adam schuman nine happy to say is not one of them that might have been. when doing a quiet period i was asking around one day so he's a
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great soldier i need to meet and one officer says to him he is about the best. and a little time went by and i got this again so one day i went to see him and walked into his room and he was by himself, he was haunted looking sitting alone on his bunk and i addressed myself and said i hear he is a great soldier and he said maybe but i'm leaving and what happened after is redeployments. the great combat the soldier couldn't do it anymore and so i stayed with him until he left the war. i can't remember if it was that day or the next but basically he walked the helicopter out of there and there was a man we can quarrel all day about the policies before us that this was
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a guy that by every measure has been a great soldier and as he walked through the helicopter he wasn't feeling a sense of accomplishment or success that this was a man in his mid-20s cloaked for having to live in shame. waiting for the helicopter with six in-line you can imagine this noise and dust. here it comes eventually ended to helicopter with a big red cross on the side. that is who he has become. he is done and he goes home. my intent in the first book on
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and i'm almost done. the intent wasn't to write about the iraq war but about journalistically about young men going into a war at a particular moment. the type of journalism i do doesn't involve something that's happened and you g in the yugo s and do interviews about what happened you show up and stay and watch what unfolds. in this case of the illuminating question in 2007 when it seems to have reached a moment is what becomes of the young man that goes into the war at such a moment and he turned out to be one of the answers i got so when it came time for the next book because i wrote about the diploma -- deployment into the book came out. it was sleeplessness and
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depression things they were not expecting so it occurred to me as a tragic moment. maybe this was it. not there but here as all of these people that did well on the battalion gets down to recover from the experiences of what they did and what they saw and what they tried not to see and on it goes. so basically he comes home into the opening line of the book is two years later than the book goes on from there. this whole cluster of people are now trying to get better. >> i have a question about the reporting of the book to read seamlessly now on the reporting of it you have these vets around the country you don't know which
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ones are necessarily useful to you in the book that will happen. it can only be with one family at a time. how do you devise a plan post efficiently? if they guess is right it is some 25% of them were 500,000 have returned with some type of psychological wound to contend with. that's a lot of character to choose from. the type of journalism i do depends on being present and the fact i was with the battalion for eight months i didn't visit to the story that i stayed with it. i didn't become a problem for the soldiers. it's helped them understand what
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a reporter does and when it came time for the second book some trust has been established and i can start with adam and build out from there and it's the same thing. the first book was during the war with people and the second was with recovering families and the trust came from the first book because everybody in that book i knew from a particular experience and so it's just as the user -- usual journalism thing. i don't know how long it will take great and going to be around a lot. by the way you don't get to see the book published because i can't -- i'm writing about you. you can't be your own editor. it requires a leap of faith on your part and if you're good to go. after that's what do you do? you just hang out and you are filled with indecision because i
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wasn't with another family thinking why am i here i should be over there. so you do the best that you can. >> your upcoming book is the evil hours of biography on the posttraumatic stress disorder. tell us how it began and how it evolved in the buck. it's kind of all of my life i grew out of the military and felt like vietnam was a lot of my childhood. it wasn't really recognized until 1980 which most people are until you're with and integrate out of the experience.
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that is the first question i render asking my father is what happened in via non- entire member he was washing the car at the time and he took the hose off the car and the water was coming in the sidewalk. i went into the service once i left college and ptsd isn't something on the mind of marines and soldiers a lot and active duty but if you are familiar with the literature of the war you've seen the deer hunter or any of the american war movies you kind of get a sense. some of the best documents are in the film and so you grew up with an awareness of that.
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it was the biggest military city in america. the war that i opposed before anyone thought it up and i found a lot of my friends from college were all over there and it was impossible for me to ignore that so i ended up going and people made jokes about ptsd all the time and it's you've got the ptsd so it was a source of jokes and was the fourth most diagnosed psychiatric disorder in the world. associated with soldiers in a big way but if you are around the military and if you spend any time on the base or around soldiers, you know, around the
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marines that have returned as a part of the conversation it's hard for me to say where my interests began but it's in this ongoing thing and so i run into people all the time. so it's everywhere in southern california which has the largest population of iraq and afghanistan in the country. i look at it as being we live in a kind of, culture in some ways so it's just part of our environment at this point. hispanic in the new yorker you wrote in their article just sent researchers challenging our understanding even its very nature as an ailment. modern psychiatry they argue is systematically overdiagnosed as ptsd without nurturing the ability to heal themselves. could you explain this controversy?
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>> when people hear that there is a criticism it is hard to wrap your head around that idea because in my mind there is a kind of surplus of sympathy for veterans. we all want that. we want to thank them for their service and that is something i appreciate the title of david's book i think it is ironic. people would thank me and some veterans have said to me i feel like everyone assumes that we all have ptsd and we have the entire veteran experience that assumes if you went over there and were blown up 1% a week in baghdad that you are broken and i think there is a tendency to sort of look at all of the soldiers as having been through it and looking as if it was always a negative damaging experience for them when in fact the steps show 85% of people go
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to the war and they are generally okay. it's not -- it stays for all of their lives but to say to assume that everyone has been damaged by that is kind of going too f far. we have the veteran experience. i think there is a disconnect and the emotional goals that feels such a burden to give something back and -- ptsd can extend the sympathy that can somehow make up the fact.
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so i think it is a way for a coping mechanism occur to love the soldiers say when someone thinks me for the surface it's their emotional needs that are being set. they want to communicate something so they say thank you for your service and i think that ptsd is related to that. i have been thanked repeatedly and i'm not a combat veteran in the peacetime core and most veterans say it does make them feel uncomfortable. having said that it's kind of weird america did this or that i
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know exactly what i want people to say to me except maybe nothing and let's have a conversation instead. and let's actually talk about if you're interested and want to talk about iraq i will talk your ears off about iraq. let's talk about travel politics and how the middle east was a creation of the maps on the british cartographers. let's get into it. don't talk through the point of what you think it was to you. i love talking about iraq with people. if they want an honest conversation i will tell you how freaked out i was. all of the experiences and how it was because i really just experience for me, how much i loved it and i will talk about it all day but people that haven't served it kind of scar
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scared. it's this untouchable subject and rather than thanking me for my service, take five minutes and just ask what was it like how did you feel, what were you and what you had were you in? learn how they work. like hemingway said the glory is meaningless. they want to talk about the dates, the places and the names. think of a different way to approach the topic. hispanic he was a ranger and raa captain in the civilian contractor for the humanitarian mining and he shot and killed himself in 2004 and the memoir is losing the american contractor in iraq out this year.
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you write he was enraged by the bush administration in baghdad and the incompetence of the greed and the lies that had stupidity, the disillusionment that deep. you said we as a nation have adopted the different images of our brave young men and women in the armed forces versus sleazy contractors. can you explain? >> i would like to start by piggybacking on the comment about the 22 at a because my son doesn't count among the 22 at a because he went to iraq as a contractor, he was in love with the military all of his life. he started as a toddler with an obsession with the weapons of the war and never outgrew it. she had to my mind all the time he was growing up a naïve the
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reverence for what he called the warrior spirit and he did talk about the honor and glory. he spent three years in the rotc and four in the army and he volunteered for everything he could so he was sent to the congo and angola and he learned how to run the operation and he was doing that out of the embassy. and the text to privatize the job. at that point it seemed to me an excellent thing he left the reserves for the clearance.
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then the company that he works for was bought by another. he married into nydia kum had a stepson and a younger daughter and they went to ethiopia for another operation and then he was given the option by his company going to washington and going to iraq and he went with fabulous enthusiasm. at that point he admired bush and believed the war was necessary and he was there for only seven months but when he came home i feel this leg he had to stand on that was in the
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military values had been ripped from him and he was appalled after the disbanding of the baptist army -- baathist army. if you look at all of the symptoms come he couldn't sleep, he was always aroused and he was sometimes distant, sometimes frightened, sometimes irrationally angry and so forth but what happened in his case and this is complicated his wife sued for the benefits for her and her children and what the trial came down to was did he or did he not have ptsd at which point it seems to me this
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doesn't satisfy the need that happens but that is what the courtroom does and it's very difficult to prove the posthumous ptsd. so they looked at the story indicates opposite answers to the questions. and for six years my daughter-in-law pursued this through the courts with the reviews and appeals and ultimately was denied benefits for the children because you couldn't properly say that he had ptsd. that experience was valuable in the way that you are describing it, david, because i understand there are kinds of trouble in the recognizable symptoms if you like about that happens in the minds of young men that go
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through an experience like this but labeling isn't very helpful. jonathan wrote two wonderful books about his work with vietnam veterans and in america. he's come up with serious work for the veterans come and that seems to describe what happened to my son. you find in a situation you cannot get out of because you say you cannot say partially no. then you find that your officers are giving you orders that are what christopher read as wrong.
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what happens is a moral injury to that idealism that it began. i am glad that i had written this book before i came across moral injury because i might have believed that is the answ answer. is that you say when i'm writing about my son i have planes and muscles cared for the tools to give the illusion of control. you are trained to proceed into study and imperious could you elaborate on that passage and tell us what experience losing a son on the circumstances how that might be different for you as a writer as opposed to
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someone with less of a habit of introspection or facility. >> the difference it's made for me is that writing is what i do to make sense of any kind of chaos. it's instinctive and in media and immediateand i do remember t remember much about the plane trip back from where we buried my son but i do remember we sat writing a furious letter to the nra which then eventually was altered into the first essay that i wrote about him published by the times. when i look back at it it seems to me the writing helps in three different ways. one is my/down everything in my
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journal. they've written about suicide, soldiers and what i was doing in my journal was telling the story of my grief that i wasn't telling the story of my son whereas my experience day by day was a brief memory. i know it wasn't the story of his story, it's mine. he wouldn't have told the story in the same way and he wouldn't have come to the conclusion that i came to but i try to understand through his life what
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happened to him. you never come to an understanding. you can go no further. those two things to tell the story in a way that keeps them and in a way that might help other people. we were just talking about this. curiously i find having britain as a memoir as close to the facts as i understand it then i'm writing a play for the purposes and i am quite free to use the emotions that are still in me in this different way.
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>> along with the country's habit we have a va system with serious shortcomings. the va backlog is already a joke on comedy central. it is well known the battle for benefits goes on year after year and i'm curious how you would respond to the contradiction between the fact that we line item the best and as david morris writes the shortcoming is going to be the system to show we don't feel much responsibility for what happens. >> we hold a vote to declare the war and hold them in the va hospital.
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i still go to the va hospital. just to soak in the history so you can see the bats. it's the second-largest department after the pentagon. it's huge. it's not enough and i think that it's overly centralized and i think it suffers for not fully understandinunderstanding them g completely serious in the way that it should be serious about dealing with people on a personal level. the biggest and 2003 cut 2004 and 2005 is what they call the gold standard treatment are basically one-size-fits-all mass produced therapies, prolonged
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exposures about six months ago, prolonged exposure and cbt which is more of a talking therapy. the prolonged exposure has a dropout rate of 60%. and prolonged exposure which is the number one they spent the number one on the therapy that involves you describing your worst experience was not one time or five times but ideally in a row. virtual reality is a more expensive big-ticket item in the production of that technology which i think is completely fallacious. they've doubled down and spent money on the staircase that are questionable but have very serious side effects because they need to roll out and create a mass produced therapies for tens of thousands of the
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veterans very fast and be seen to be doing this in a way. when i went to the va all i wanted to do is talk to somebody that maybe had a masters in psychology and is something that counseling but that never happened. i was put on a seven or eight month list and get exposure therapy i hated it, made my symptoms worse and at the end i said what can i do i just want to see what else is out there. it's the most innovative experience counselors that treat ptsd. no one spends more in the entire world on the treatment research and training them the united states veterans administration so they are the lead agency in the world for ptsd research into treatment. i just don't think that it's not
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a decentralized enough. i don't think they have enough qualified counselors, just basic counselors to talk to the veterans and deal with it on a human level to see you get this mass produced like they are producing what they think about the weapons systems. it's like fighting a war all on its own. >> you have to bring people in and have a review process i don't know why they continue to use these therapies. they've become at odds because ptsd grew out of the anti-vietnam war movement. it was heavily negotiated with the left with all of the people
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that opposed the vietnam war played by tom cruise. he was a big part of that whole group and get the va is becoming orthodox that may become the masters of ptsd so they basically dictate the research agenda and the public agenda and in my mind is become fixed in their ways about how it is going to be treated and is dominated by the va. international organizations communicate and look to the va in large measure for the leadership. we fund research around the world and the netherland in then london and south africa and australia we pay for it because we have the money.
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>> i would like to say there is no va contractor although they grow into the war of the same reasons they went into the war to begin with. for the symptoms that they might look for a. they are working among the soldiers and there is a natural tension that grows up.
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[inaudible] to offer the mental health assistance. the thing that my report brought me to forward this book is just good intentions are one thing and the other side is a haphazard system. three quick examples from the book, one guy, three soldiers all that reached the point.
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the first guy goes into a va when ptsd program and yes seven weeks to work it out. that is a long waiting list at that point. and they find a four-week program with him in colorado. one guy gets seven weeks to work it out and one guy gets four weeks to work it out an and then along comes the guy said we were talking about earlier. the seven-week program is full on the waiting list and a the four-week program is full with a waiting list so they work around and finally find this little thing in california that's not va or try care.
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it is entirely donor supported and he says okay he can come here that the deal is four months minimum and stay as long as it takes to figure it out. seven weeks, four weeks at least four months and where hugo isn't dependent on your particular needs for recovery. it comes down to where there is an opening and i tried awfully hard and i think i've succeeded at keeping my own opinions out of these books. they are not my stories they are of the soldiers and families i think it is pretty fair to say if i had a kid who served and then came home and need help and i learned that there were these three options available, i would expect the very best for him. it seems like the least we can do but everything is on the
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other hand. the four-month program is not a broad scale model. there are just too many folks that need help right now to have a program like that so what do you do. they rely on the event just like david was talking about. so it doesn't seem so dramatic that when it comes of it is so that you can sort of control the moment. what happened at the four-month program is that guy had the time and you may agree with this or you may not but you have the time to take these folks and kind of take them well past the
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traumatic moment and back towards as much they can remember as what happened before that moment or the accumulation of these moments. go back to the beginning. go back to your child not as a trite way to excuse what he might have done, not to say that everything depends on the patterns of your life, but his thinking seemed to be if you can understand by learning about yourself, and enough to know who you are in the moment before the traumatic event then that you will have an easier time understanding how you behaved in the first controlled moment after the traumatic event and you might be more -- maybe not forgiveness but at least there's some understanding built in. >> so is the perfect? no. but for what's available out there it seems like a pretty good shot. >> i wanted to make one quick
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note. i interviewed a couple dozen ptsd survivors, male and female, war survivors. one of the most fair debate co- powerful therapies is yoga as an alternative therapy because of changes the hypervigilance associated where you are always around and ready for an attacker and soldiers and veterans suffer from that a lot. oh god helps people to be on an even keel with their body and sort of lower the stress hormones and become work stable, center state. so a lot of these are spending money to do yoga research in the different va centers and an additional they took part in the mantra repetition study that is repeating the mantra that i didn't personally find the fact is that most of the people in the study data so a lot of these alternative therapies that have nothing to do with sigmund and freud or any of the classical psychological theories are incredibly powerful but they are
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kind of weird. there is a little stream that takes them to say you are never going to put your leg behind your head. there are tons of teachers out there i have friends that each in california where the marines are and we need to invest more in those. they are harder to sell on the floor of congress but yoga is super powerful. i know one victim for several hours and she said it saved her life. she went through the exposure therapy and did nothing for her so you have to expand your definition of what it is basically. >> this just occurred to me that no doubt the book i've written about is exactly the process that you described that i start with the childhood and try to
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understand how the patterns. i'm just going to jumble it. but life basically is so absurd and chaotic anyway the only chance of flipping an optimistic life is to take all these things and turn them into a story whether you are writing a book or trying to understanding life there are certain roads we have to try to get to to gain control of it. if that is ptsd, i don't know. but i saw some value with some guys, not everybody but some guys in what the cpt was doing. the bigger problem i saw was the meditation.
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>> it wasn't all separate. it was a thing where if you are depressed, take this one or take that one in addition to that one. and actually this isn't news. but the over medication was stunning any love of the reason for the medication is because of the under representation of people especially in areas where soldiers tend to come from. there's not an abundance of psychologists and social workers and therapists and qualified counselors able to help. so they say okay here take this pill, take this pill. generalizing, but it is a significant problem. >> i think we have about ten minutes left. i promised i would open it up to
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audience questions. please step up to the audience microphone here. >> you use the ptsd -- you never explained what it meant. >> post traumatic stress disorder. as i understand, it is many different things. but it is first and foremost a category of psychiatric disorder category involving intrusive syndrome like flashbacks and hypervigilance you were expecting an attack at any minute or you feel numb or nothing. there's about 18 different symptoms but those are the three basic symptom areas and the intrusive symptoms that concludes my prayers and flashbacks, hypervigilance and just being totally angry and waiting for an attacker those are how i understand it but you
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have to understand it is a long story but it was invented basically in 1980 but has a history that extends all the way back in all of human history. the gentle man that wrote this for the buck finds it -- it is in some ways kind of an amoral condition but it is to be in the culture of the flashbacks. civil war veterans didn't have flashbacks. they were haunted so there was more of a supernatural reflection prior. it kind of grew out of the culture in the 1970s because that's where it came from in the movement. it seems like we've gotten away from the point where we think about the cost of people going
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to the war they don't take that into consideration. obviously it was kind of unavoidable in the world war and i remember growing up i had a babysitter whose husband came home from vietnam and i just remember it struck me when i started reading about all of the veterans i remember the stare that he had when he was just sit in his chair and stare at it struck me how did we forget that this was happening to people when they came back but not be prepared. >> when we talk about the human cost, it is one of those phrases that falls very easily into an account of the war without really thinking about what it is. one of the things i think about is the 22 veterans at a.
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>> so, here is the way to think about it and forgive me if i'm being obvious. these haven't been popular and it's not like a lot of americans have a particular stake in the war. it's an all volunteer force and a professional force now. and you know the statistics. less than 1% of american families have had somebody directly in the war. so, it seems you go to a neighborhood and talk on $99. not here. it sounds like factories were being shut down to build the democrats so they wouldn't get blown up so much. these were unpopular wars by the professional force and in a faraway country. you don't have to care until you have to care. this is not a suggestion in any way for the conscription.
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it's just to state the obvious. it's not how do you forget about the human cost. it's not just that. nobody is thinking about the war -- that's a misstatement. a lot of people are not thinking about the war very much at all. some human cost gets to be one of the casualties of that. >> i remember a girl in phoenix arizona having seen both the stars and windows in the neighborhoods and there were quite a few of them. and one of the things that i did on memorial day after jim died was to make a big gold star and put it in the window. but you know, that was the kind of sentimental thing to do. >> the other appalling statistic i have heard is the number of traumatic brain injuries. i'm sure there is overlap between that and post traumatic stress disorder. i wonder if any of the panelists can comment on how many there
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are and give us a quick little background on that as well. >> i'm not actually qualified. you are correct in that sens thf you imagine the two circles of symptoms, the two circles overlap to a large degree in terms of the symptoms. i think to be honest they were just now in the opening phases of the campaign of understanding what it really means because the brain has more connections than there are stars in the known universe so we do not understand what happens when someone experiences -- i lived through two attacks. i don't know i didn't lose consciousness. they were not profound injuries but it's hard to say what the long-term impacts of those are.
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interestingly the researchers i've spoken to look at the nfl as being a useful inelegance database and they look at locally what happened to sam. he experienced concession after concession. one of the units i was in you have people that generally had a rule if you have three concussions, three registered concussions they would send you home so there is a general awareness. i don't think the urology is getting into the basics of our understanding of it. i think we are just figuring out the fundamentals of what is at stake. one thing i would say if someone is seriously wounded there is an effect if you are wounded and you lose consciousness the
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likelihood of you getting ptsd drops by 15% said there is something that happens in the immediate six hours after the attack that changes the way the memory is stored in the near of scientists have a pretty good handle on that. and it kin that kind of paradoxy if you suffer a fairly profound traumatic brain injury and was consciousness, psychologically you are in a slightly better position if that makes any sen sense. i'm not sure how to describe it. i'm not saying good for you. but it shows how -- we don't know why that is exactly but it shows how complicated and how delicate the machine the mind is. i don't know if you can add to that. >> there is some overlap. of course there are a lot of cases of traumatic brain injury and a lot of it has to do with the fact.
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they have better equipment and they tend to come up. you get your brain rattled and was consciousness for that and you've got your rearranged. you have some things that are charted to deal with. it's funny on the hierarchy of these things i see guys with ptsd sort of wishing for tbi because at least there could be a brain scan to show what here's proof there is actually something physically wrong with me to read and they so wish they were missing a leg so they could say what there's actually something wrong with me. i can believe this. and all of that kind of gets back into the whole stigma of psychological wounds even if there is something organic underneath it, the inability of a lot of these rough and tough
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guys first of all believe something may have happened to them and then go forward from there. >> so a lot of the stuff you talked about and they have to do with the traffic event. i'm curious is that a majority of cases there is a traumatic event it can be traced back to or is it that it just develops and there is nothing you can attribute it to quick >> it coulto? >> it could be an accumulation of things that was referred to in the term of the moral injury people are starting to pay more and more attention to that. let's not just pretend that this only exists on the military side of the equation. there is, in the civilian world as well. to me, you might disagree but to me, that commonality.
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not just trauma but something happens that just rattles you down to your bones. you know when you do that and you either succumb to it or get busy trying to recover. whether it is civilian or military as one of you are saying wife comes with, and the trauma necessarily comes with recovery. to get back to an earlier point to the whole idea we have to be careful perpetuating the stereotype. there are broken soldiers from these boards. it doesn't mean they are going to be forever broken. probably most of them if you look at history they won't be but that doesn't mean you dismiss this moment as the others were tougher. we've always had a version of
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this and people kind of figured out themselves. we don't have to act as we acted before. we can advance and ac in fact we understanding that we have in the past. >> it became one of the legal issues and the benefits of trial for my son whether we could point to a particular incident that caused such. there were three possibilities of the times that he had been in trauma but one of the symptoms is that he wanted talk about it, and i think that is a frequent symptom and certainly something we learned about in the second world war that vast numbers of people that came home from the second world war were vastly changed but wouldn't talk about it because as a part of the mystique.
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>> it was mentioned on this panel bush and cheney and i think even rumsfeld. what i wanted to know is what the panelists are doing to prevent the united states from going into another war particularly ukraine where we contributed to overthrow the government and all the other places that were meddling in. what are we doing to prevent this so we don't have more discussions about ptsd and tbi. under a democratic president by the way. i wonder what you're doing. >> to answer that question for me i'm not specifically or politically -- i don't see my role as political activism but there is a political inextricable political element to the ptsd in the sense -- and i think this is where it's good to recognize that there are
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broken soldiers out there because the soldiers that are suffering are symbolic of all of this suffering that went on and all the suffering that the war inflicted. .. is the symbol that you can talk to someone and you can see there is the symbol of the soldier who paid for his country, that we
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are forced to pay for his or her treatment and to deal with their story, to deal with their testimony. i think that is one of -- people are more and just did now in ptsd than they are in the wars we just left because people are seeing their spouses and children come back with it so it's an issue that people are wrestling with. i think -- i can't think of many things that would do a better job of keeping us out of fighting another stupid war than focusing on ptsd. i don't know if i fully satisfied your question but that's how i look at it. >> my answer would be that writers write in the way we try to be activists, those of us who do consider ourselves activists and unlike the journalist i do, because of my experience. but you know your question is a valid one and the answer seemed pitifully small. i donate $25 here and sign the petition their but what i'm
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really doing is writing the story that i went through through through. >> we are out of time but i think we have time for one quick question. >> would have my subspecialties is trying to teach university level mathematics to learning disabled students. i had my first ptsd -- it's a tragedy. we don't have a medical diagnosis. all that is is ptsd. the circuits are broken. the student is tragically impaired. no medication, no outward diagnosis and we don't have -- we have tht's that but we don't have medical doctors. the tragedy continues. i'm sorry. >> please thank the panel for coming. [applause] we will be around afterward if you have any other questions.
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[inaudible conversations] our coverage of the 19 -- best of all books from university of southern california will continue now with a panel on feminism. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> my clock says 12:30 so why do we get started. welcome to "the los angeles times" book festival. my name is robin abcarian and i'm a columnist who has worked
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on line these days. i hope you can check me out at l.a. times.com/local/robin abcarian. this is the evolution of feminism panel so if that's not what you came to hear you are definitely in the wrong place. all of you housekeeping issues to attend to. i want you to ask you to please silence your cell phones. you probably don't need to be told that. there's a book signing following the session so you can continue the conversation with our authors afterwards and signing area five. the a personal recording of the session is not allowed. we are also being broadcast live on c-span fyi and i was supposed to say something about earthquake safety. i think the drill is if you feel an earthquake please leave calmly, calmly. [laughter] and put your hands over your head.

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